Asian Honey Bees DAF

Fanning the hive in hot weather exhausts bees and reduces yield

Australia’s honey industry is preparing for a difficult 2014, with abnormal weather conditions set to deliver the lowest national honey yields in at least a decade.

A combination of excessive heat, flood and drought has hit prime honey producing areas in recent times and led to honey supplies falling by over 50 percent.

The honey producing process requires the right mix of temperatures and rainfall for nectar producing crops to grow, set buds, flower and then have bees collect the nectar to ripen into honey. Erratic temperatures, both hot and cold, have meant spring production was very low.

Australia’s hottest year on record has severely hampered honey flows for bee keepers, with high temperatures causing stress and erratic behaviour in local bee populations. In extreme heatwave conditions beeswax honeycombs can melt inside the hive. The heat forces bees to remain inside and collectively fan their wings in an attempt to keep the hive cool.

According to Trevor Weatherhead, Executive Director of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, the honey shortage has the potential to rock the industry in the short term.

“It is a dire time for the honey industry with both apiarists and honey packers bracing themselves for the next 12 months.

“We have witnessed a ‘perfect storm’ of negative weather conditions.

“Because of this, honey stock is now the scarcest it has been in over ten years and honey packers are finding it very difficult to secure supplies,” Mr Weatherhead said.

“This will no doubt make it very hard for some companies to meet contracts with supermarkets and supply their full range of products.”

Mr Weatherhead said it was more important than ever for Australian’s to support the local honey industry.

“An estimated 65 per cent of agricultural production in Australia depends on pollination by honeybees with pollination services to Australian agriculture being valued at more $1.7 billion per annum.

“Domestic Australian supermarket retail sales for honey are in excess of $150 million a year and honey is a growing multi-million dollar source of export revenue for Australia.

“Conditions will once again return to normal, but like any agriculturally based business, during this period there will be a number of hardships that will have to be endured.

“Over the next 12 months we can greatly assist our Australian bee keepers and honey producers by continuing to buy honey as you would normally,” Mr Weatherhead concluded.

This article has no connection to the Hot Brown Honey reviewed on Jan 1.